Scene: At Willys Bar…
Dude: So what do you do?
JLM: I’m a Community Organizer?
Dude: Oh like Obama
Dude: So what do you do?
As an organizer, I’m always asked the same question, “What do you do?
Here are some working definitions and my own personal stab at this vexing occupation.
Community organizing is a process by which people living in proximity to each other are brought together by an organization to act in their common self-interest. Community organizers may act as area-wide coordinators of programs for different agencies in an attempt to meet community needs for various services.
|Community organization is that process by which the people…organize themselves to ‘take charge’ of their situation and thus develop a sense of being a community together. It is a particularly effective tool for the poor and powerless as they determine for themselves the actions they will take to deal with the essential forces that are destroying their community and consequently causing them to be powerless.7|
-Reverend Robert Linthicum, World Vision International
|Organizing does two central things to seek to rectify the problem of power imbalance – it builds a permanent base of people power so that dominant financial and institutional power can be challenged and held accountable to values of greater social, environmental and economic justice; and, it transforms individuals and communities, making them mutually respectful co-creators of public life rather than passive objects of decisions made by others.8|
-Mike Miller, Organize Training Center
Communtiy Organizing, is a tradition often not described directly by the aforementioned term,that dates back to before Jesus. Some argue Jesus is one of histroy’s greatest example of community organizing (12 leaders, one message, challenging status quo etc.). For the organizer it often begins with a moment of obligation. A moment when you as an individual realize that all your efforts are useless if the community members effected by the issue are not leading the way. Our work is to uphold the value of community change, lead by workers, families, service people, and the everyday citizens of planet earth who comes together in community to say “No More” and offer a solution to the social ails that bring them down. As an organizer our role is to collectivize the pain and offer tools to engage in civil society and enact our democaratic right to speak out, hold our ellected officials accountable, and insure the quality of life of the collective.
When pain, oppression, and repression enters our communities people have choices. They can bare the pain. They could speak out. They could find others that share their pain and speak out together. They could harness that voice and target it to the decision makers who could breing about the change. They could buidls community power to work towards community transformation. They could be the change.
Much more could be said, but this should give those of you who were not to sure of what our new President’s previous occupation entailed a basic idea.